‘l’m interested in a good script regardless of the source. I think the only reason that we have done a number of literary adaptations is quite simply because I liked the books.’

responsibility for their own performances. Casting, he claims. is a delicate process in which he must feel that the actor has both the desire for the role and an insight into how it should be played. The filming period is when they are allowed to show him that his choice was a wise one.

‘We had on Howard '3 End a very, very famous actress come to read the Margaret Schlegel part and she completely messed up. I couldn’t imagine what the matter was with her unless she was on drugs or something, but fortunately we’ve never cast anybody that has been totally wrong for their part and we’ve never fired an actor, but I would if it turned out that they wanted to argue all the time. There’s a type of American actor that wants to method-ize everything. If that happened I’d get rid of them, I guess.’

Unsurpn'singly, ivory refuses to name the ‘very, very famous’ actress who didn’t pass the audition for Howard’s End, but troublesome relations with Raquel Welch on The Wild Parry and the departure ofJulian Sands from Maurice I and Glenn Close from The Bostonians are public knowledge. Despite any impressions gained from his films, there is a steely determination beneath lvory’s gentle surface in much the same way that an anger about the rigidities of the class system informs his best " work.

A genial figure. lvory’s feathers appear to be ruffled only when the Merchant-Ivory name is linked exclusively to handsome literary adaptations. ‘You know, we didn’t always just do literary adaptations,’ he remarks with just the tiniest edge in his voice. ‘We had

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Scotland on Friday 21 January.

; 4

The List 14—27 January I994 1